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Lifewire / Jordan Provost
Camera is packed with options
SD card compatibility
Amazing sound with Quad DAC
Terrible software support
The LG V40 ThinQ will be an excellent bargain phone in a year, but right now it can't compete amongst other flagship devices.
The LG V40 ThinQ was released in 2018 as the flagship phone for the Korean electronic megacorporation. It brings to the table a lot of the same features as other premier phones released around the same time. When you're looking at a plethora of phones, all with the same processors and RAM, it's hard to choose which one is right for you. At that point, it’s the little things that make one model better than the other.
LG's previous flagships have been great, but they tend to not get the same attention as major releases from Samsung and Apple. It's a shame, really, because the V40 ThinQ is one of the best Android phones to come out in 2018. Its amazing camera configuration, Quad DAC, and almost-stock Android interface make it a truly feature-packed Android phone.
Whether or not the V40 ThinQ is worth it or not really depends on the user. We tested this phone in all kinds of real-life applications to help you determine if this is the right phone for you.
The V40 ThinQ is a huge phone, but it’s still manageable to use with one hand. The 6.4-inch OLED display takes up most of the front with very little bezel. There is a small notch that contains the two front-facing cameras—some people are frustrated by this, but we didn’t think it was too intrusive of a design.
The rear of the V40 is austere. It's a flat plane of Gorilla Glass 5, which looks great but constantly attracts fingerprints. Glass backs are the standard for phones now, but it’s a design that seems like it's asking for trouble, even when it's the incredibly strong glass used here.
The benchmarks for the V40 ThinQ were fairly disappointing and indicate only average performance capabilities.
The back also contains the rear-facing camera and the fingerprint sensor. The sensor is standard fare and has great accuracy. The three cameras, on the other hand, are one of the best features of the V40, which we'll get into in more depth below.
On the right side of the phone, you'll find the SIM card tray. The V40 takes a single nano-SIM, so if you travel abroad you'll likely need to switch between cards (something to keep in mind if you're overseas a lot). A pleasant surprise, though, is the SD card slot in the SIM tray. It's nice to have the extra storage, and this feature is often overlooked in today's phones.
Also on the right of the phone is the power button, and on the left side are the volume buttons and a dedicated Google Assistant button. For those who are fans of virtual assistants, having a dedicated button is a nice touch.
The LG V40 ThinQ's setup is pretty standard for an Android smartphone. When we turned it on for the first time we were greeted with the Android welcome screen. Then we just had to follow the prompts on-screen. It gave us the option to opt out of analytics and then prompted us to sign into Google. The phone takes it from there.
After the short “welcome” process, it’s a good idea to make sure the phone is updated to the latest OS in settings. The V40 ThinQ installed the updates in multiple parts for us, requiring that we go back into settings each time to trigger the next one.
The LG V40 ThinQ is equipped with the same Snapdragon 845 chipset and Adreno 630 GPU that almost every current flagship has, as well as 6GB LPDDR4X RAM.
On the PCMark for Android Work 2.0 benchmark (a way of measuring the phone’s performance during general tasks), the LG V40 ThinQ scored an 8,006. By comparison, the Google Pixel 3 scored a 9,053 and the Samsung Galaxy S10 scored a 9,660, so the V40 doesn’t stack up too well.
We also ran two GFXBench benchmarks which tested the V40 ThinQ's performance when rendering complex 3D graphics. In the T Rex Offscreen test, the V40 reached a score of 147. This puts it just one point behind the iPhone X (which is pretty good).
On the Car Chase test, the V40 scored a 16. Oddly, the V35 ThinQ—the V40's predecessor— scored better on the test with a 17, and the Galaxy Note 9 scored a full 10 points better with a 26.
The benchmarks for the V40 ThinQ were fairly disappointing and indicate only average performance capabilities. Unfortunately, this isn't reflected at all in the premium price of the phone.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a better phone for selfies.
The LG V40 ThinQ performed as expected on both LTE and Wi-Fi. On a 150 Mbps line with an 801.11ac connection, it averaged a download speed of 20 MB/s about 10 feet from the router. On Verizon LTE, speeds were even better—it could download at 25 to 30 MB/s with no noticeable congestion.
There are four different models on the LG V40 ThinQ available in the US: V405QA7 (unlocked), V405UA (AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon), V405TAB (T-Mobile), V405UA0 (US Cellular).
The big thing to watch out for is that the AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and US Cellular models don't have CDMA or EVDO signal compatibility. These aren't used very much in the US anymore, but if you live or work in an area with only 2G, or if you frequently travel abroad, you may find this to be an issue.
LG is known for having excellent LCD screens, and the V40 ThinQ is no exception. It features a 3120 x 1440 display that looks great. We noticed that the screen is set to 1080p by default for some reason—if you notice your V40 ThinQ looks a bit fuzzy, this is likely why. One of the first things to do when you set up your phone is set the display to its full 1440p resolution.
Once that adjustment is made, the V40's screen looks great, though it still isn’t quite as good as an iPhone XS or a Galaxy Note 10. It has the punchy blacks and wonderful colors that OLED screens are known for, and the brightness is about average. Only when looking at the screen in direct sunlight did we have any visibility issues.
The LG V40 ThinQ's display is also compatible with HDR10 content, which isn’t a huge deal because HDR10 content is still very limited. But it does help nudge the V40 above a lot of the competition.
The LG V40 ThinQ has a unique feature that will be particularly appealing to audiophiles: it’s one of the only smartphones with a built-in Quad Audio DAC (digital-to-analog converter), which allows you to play high-fidelity audio through your headphones. For anyone that listens to high-quality audio or has invested in premium headphones, this could be a major selling point.
Another undersung feature of this phone is its 3.5mm headphone jack. As more and more flagships lose this port, the LG V40 ThinQ lets you rock out without having to fiddle with dongles or buy a USB-C pair of headphones.
If you're one of those people that like to play music through their phone's loudspeakers, the V40 also has a resonance chamber that gives the built-in speakers more punch.
If you want cameras, this phone has them. There are three cameras on the rear: a 12MP standard lens, a 16MP wide-angle lens with a 107-degree field of view, and a 12MP telephoto lens with 2x zoom. The V40 ThinQ lets you see what a shot will look like from the perspective of all three before you take your shot, and you can even take a photo with all three lenses at the same time.
In our testing, all three rear cameras took great-looking photos, but even the telephoto lens struggled with any amount of zoom. That's not that unusual for a phone camera, but it was still disappointing for this kind of high-end flagship.
The dual front-facing cameras were a pleasant surprise—the 8MP standard lens and the 5MP wide lens produced some great shots, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a better phone for selfies.
We also thought the camera software on the V40 ThinQ performed really well. The “automatic” modes yield good-quality photos, but if you're so inclined you can really dig into the different settings. The options aren't quite on the level of a DSLR, but it still offers a surprising level of customization for a smartphone.
The battery capacity on the LG V40 ThinQ is 3,300 mAh, which is a bit below average for a phone this size. It’s probably on the small side to allow LG to fit in the resonance chamber for the speakers, but it would have been nice to have a larger battery around 4,000 mAh.
The existing 3,300 mAh is going to be enough for more casual users—we tested how long the battery would last on an average day of basic work use (texting, calling, web browsing, and business-focused apps like Slack). Under these circumstances, we could make it through the day with around 60 percent of the battery left.
But this doesn’t take full advantage of the V40 ThinQ’s most prominent feature—that big, lovely screen on the front. When we tried watching videos, playing games and otherwise using this phone as the high-quality media player it’s advertised as, we only got around four hours of screen time before our battery died. We were able to boost this time a bit by lowering the screen’s brightness, but 3,300 mAh just isn't enough to drive this hardware for very long.
Like most phones these days, the LG V40 ThinQ does not have a removable battery. So if you plan to watch a lot of video or play lots of games, you're going to want to invest in a portable charger.
In terms of charging, this phone takes advantage of the latest in convenient charging technology. Its glass back allows for wireless charging, compatible with any Qi charging pad or stand. It also supports Quick Charge 4, which advertises five hours of battery life in just five minutes of charging.
The LG's custom Android UI is pretty close to stock Android, and aside from some LG bloatware, it's pretty unintrusive. It actually makes us wonder why they didn't just go with default Android (we suspect they may just want any analytics you forget to opt out of). But as a whole, the software seems a bit behind the times. We thought the camera software worked well, but everything else leaves a lot to be desired.
The phone’s settings are one of the more frustrating processes to navigate. There are four different pages of settings, and it can be confusing to figure out just where everything is. It’s also unclear why the display is pre-set to a lower resolution than what the screen is capable of, and why it’s strangely difficult to find this setting and correct it.
But the biggest issue is that the LG V40 ThinQ, consistent with LG’s record, is always a step behind the latest Android updates. The V40 launched with Android Oreo when it was released in October 2018 and it still hasn't received Android Pie. Instead, LG released Pie on some of their older phones and on their newest phone, the LG G8 ThinQ, and left the V40 ThinQ high and dry.
As of the time of this writing, the V40 ThinQ is on the list to receive Android Pie in the near future. But this long delay is part of a pattern of super-slow updates and puts into question whether or not LG will continue to support the V40 into the future.
Unfortunately, it's not the old days of Android where you could just unlock the bootloader and throw a ROM for the latest version of the OS on your phone. Instead, you have to wait and hope that a company keeps supporting your phone. With LG's track record of slow or nonexistent support, there's no way to be sure when the V40 will get OS updates and how long LG will keep putting them out.
The LG V40 ThinQ retails for $949.99. This is very much a premium price tag, putting it in the same bracket as the latest iPhones and Samsung Galaxy flagships. In terms of hardware, we’d say it’s pretty much on par with the Galaxy S10 and the iPhone XR. But LG's poor track record for updates on this device makes it a hard sell at that price. If you’re willing to spend upwards of $900 on a phone, you’re better off buying something with comparable hardware and better software support.
Hardware-wise, the Pixel 3 XL matches the V40 ThinQ's CPU and GPU and has a comparable screen. Its camera is second to none and surpasses the V40 in terms of photo quality. And—in contrast to LG’s lack of timely updates—the Pixel comes with stock Android and is always first in line for OS updates. It also only costs $699, about $250 cheaper than the V40 ThinQ, and can be found for less online.
The Apple iPhone XS is also a close competitor to the V40. It's hard to compare Apples to Androids, but in this case, Apple definitely comes out on top. The LG V40 ThinQ is slightly cheaper and has more customizable camera software, but the iPhone XS has it beat in almost every other category. When it comes to usability, build quality, and overall feel, the XS is superior to the V40.
Unreliable updates and an inflated price tag make this phone hard to recommend.
The LG V40 ThinQ would be a great phone if it was half the price. As it stands, the V40 has great hardware but doesn’t really excel in any one area besides audio—similar phones like the Google Pixel 3 XL perform better, receive more regular updates, and cost less.